How to Avoid Losing Out on Job Candidates at the Offer Stage

August 29, 2023

In this job market, candidates are often fielding multiple offers. More companies than ever are taking candidates to the offer stage, only for everything to fall apart. Here are our top tips for how to close the deal and secure the hire.

Like anything involving human behaviour, hiring is unpredictable. And when you’re hiring, and you lose a candidate right at the finish line, it’s easy to blame the unpredictable human behaviours involved. Maybe the candidate took another offer. Maybe no one was willing to relocate for the role. Maybe the candidate’s salary expectations were unreasonable. You followed your process, and it didn’t work out. It’s back to square one, and the process keeps chugging along.

But hiring actually presents huge risks to organizations. And these risks merit reflection. The biggest risk, of course, is that you hire someone who doesn’t perform, or worse, torpedoes your company culture. The second biggest risk? Running a candidate through the gauntlet of a hiring process, only for them to reject the role at the offer stage.

The fact is, hiring takes significant resources. To name a few:

  • The time and salaries of internal recruiters who manage the process
  • The time and salary it takes for hiring managers, directors, and leadership in the business to conduct interviews
  • The cost of software to keep track of applicants, and other recruitment processes
  • The opportunity cost of not hiring for a crucial role.

The further you get a candidate along in the process, the more resources you spend. And when that candidate doesn’t accept a job offer, those resources are all squandered.

This happens more often than you might think, especially in this job market. Several years on from the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hiring market remains exceedingly tight. This is doubly true in Argentus’ recruitment specialties of procurement and supply chain.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen more companies than ever lose out on candidates after they’ve made an offer. Often, this will happen to a company, and they’ll then comes to us to restart the search. Over our 20 year history as a specialized recruitment firm, we’ve seen this enough that we’ve learned some strategies for how to avoid it. In fact, we consider this part of the core value we provide. Having a specialized recruiter engaged early on in the process can be tremendously valuable in making sure that a candidate accepts a job offer.

The best way to make sure a candidate accepts your offer is to have the absolute best offer. That’s true of course, but sometimes it’s not so simple. Sometimes you’re limited by budget, or other factors out of your control. But there are so many things you can control in a hiring process.

So here are our top tips to avoid losing out on candidates at the offer stage:

1. Timing is everything.

There’s an old adage in the recruitment business: “time kills deals.” Excessive delays are the biggest reasons why companies lose out on candidates at the offer stage. If you’ve identified a great candidate, move quickly towards making an offer. But you should also streamline your recruitment process from the beginning.

The role of time in the recruitment process often goes under the radar. If a candidate first applies in June, and you make an offer in mid-July, only for them to take a competing offer, it’s easy to say you were never going to make the hire anyway. But that week that it took to get feedback on an interview because an executive went on vacation? It could have been all the difference.

Of course assessing a candidate takes time. You have to do your due diligence, and that often involves multiple interviews, as well as assessments. But it’s all the time in between these steps that makes the process drag, and opens up the risk that candidates will get other offers. The better the candidate, the faster your process should be—because great candidates are in the most demand.

2. Set expectations very early in the process.

The earlier you’re open about your expectations, the more trust you build with a candidate. Salaries are the biggest expectation that goes unmet at the offer stage. You don’t need to negotiate the whole package up front, but establish the candidate’s target salary early. If you can meet (or exceed) it, move forward. If not, move on.

But you should also be open with a candidate about how long you expect the hiring process to take, and then meet that expectation. In a first interview, let them know the steps that you have to follow from there to make the hire. If you expect that the role may evolve or change halfway through the process, or may end up taking longer to hire than you would like, be open about that as well. It’s better to bring the candidate into the process early than have your organization be a mysterious black box.

Also: set expectations early around work-from-home or hybrid work arrangements. Many organizations want to be flexible, but that flexibility isn’t always in the cards. It’s easy to interview and push these conversations to a later date, but it can be a big part of whether a candidate accepts a role. It’s best to be up front early-on about whether a role is completely in person, remote or hybrid—and if it’s hybrid, how many days a week the candidate is expected to be in the office.

3. Adopt a customer service mindset when dealing with candidates.

Many organizations are still in the mindset that they hold all the cards, and any candidate is lucky just to get the time of day. They’re a gatekeeper to employment, and candidates are just beating down the door to work for them. In some job markets, and for some organizations, that’s true. If you post on job boards and see hundreds of applications roll in, it can feel true. But how many of those candidates are actually right for the role?

In today’s hiring market, for difficult roles, the best candidates are in tremendously high demand. The best practices is to adopt a customer service mindset when dealing with their candidates. That means keeping communication open, even when you don’t have any update to provide. Consider the actual experience that a candidate has when going through your process—everything from how they apply for a role, to how much the employer values their time when scheduling (or rescheduling) interviews.

Just as you’re evaluating a candidate on all the little things, they’re evaluating you as well. And a good hiring experience, built on trust and open communication, can be the difference when a candidate is looking at multiple offers.

If you’ve ever been through a hiring process only to lose a top candidate at the offer stage, you know how frustrating it is. And there are many, many reasons why candidates will fail to accept an offer. Hiring involves people, and people are fickle. But these tips are some of the most important things we tell our clients to help set them up for success.

And as we said up front, one of Argentus’ core specialties is in helping ensure that candidates actually accept an offer. We do this by managing the process from square one, with open communication, clear expectations, and an exceptional candidate experience. So as always, if you have any immediate or upcoming hiring needs in procurement or supply chain, reach out to us today! Call 416 364 9919 or send an email to


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